According to the Tourism Restart Taskforce, which advises the Australian Government on a domestic and international travel road map post-COVID, Australians may be able to starting flying to New Zealand in little more than a month. Other countries including the pacific islands may be included before the end of summer.
At the last taskforce meeting on May 22, which was attended by Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham, a tourism timetable was discussed outlining possible start dates for domestic and international travel.
According to John Hart, the Chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, the industry is ready to accept visitors from New Zealand by July, however that doesn’t mean we should be packing our bags just yet given the document is “aspirational” and yet to be “signed off”.
“From our point of view, July 1 is possible,” Mr Hart told news.com.au. “We can be ready by then for New Zealand visitors.
“We want to put that marker down of July 1, so if industry is called on as part of a bubble we will be ready … but this can only happen if health advice can happen and government restrictions can happen. So there’s a lot of things to go right for the bubble to happen.”
As part of the timetable, the advisory group recommended all domestic travel to be in place by July, while international travel to New Zealand and the Pacific should commence on July 1.
For those looking to travel further abroad, other countries deemed ‘safe’ may start from September, with all overseas travel commencing from early 2021.
“The industry wants this bubble to happen, but it’s out of our hands,” Mr Hart explained, saying not all borders need to be open for the trans-Tasman travel bubble to operate.
“While there’s been no agreement or sign-off [on the timetable] … to be frank, there’s no need to have all state borders open to have the bubble operate. If we wait as industry players for all the stars to align to receive visitors from NZ, it will never happen.”
The trans-Tasman travel bubble has been in discussion between both New Zealand and Australian Prime Ministers since the beginning of May.
As part of the plan, residents would not be required to take part in a 14-day quarantine.
However Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cautioned both New Zealand and Australian residents to not get too excited yet, despite the overwhelming “enthusiasm” to get the bubble going.
“Obviously what we want to do is make sure that we’ve got all of that border work in place, that we are ready to go when we have agreement on both sides of the Tasman that it is safe to proceed,” she said, according to Radio New Zealand.
“One of the conversations we’ve had is that we’ve perhaps had a little bit more time to see what is happening with our efforts to stamp out Covid with eased restrictions.
“Australia in some cases is just getting into that, so I’d say good work is taking place and it won’t be too long before we will be ready,” Ms Ardern said.